The Andes Incident - G-ASIX
18th June 1971

Page 2

Contuned from Page 1

After Mendoza (shortly before crossing Andes) seat belt signs were put on as a precaution after very little cobblestone effect was experienced.

All passengers were strapped in before serious turbulence experienced.

Three air Hostesses had not had time to strap themselves in after securing galleys, bars, etc. before turbulence started. One (Air Hostess Denby) suffered a cut on cheek, bruises and contusion.

Bar/galley equipment broke free during turbulence.

Turbulence lasted approximately 5 minutes. Exact time unknown as flight recorder failed after 3˝ minutes of turbulence. This failure was due to an internal electrical wire breaking.

Main excursions were ion bank and speed. Crew reported bank of up to 40/60 degrees and speed indications of 0.8 to 0.96 Mach.

During turbulence the Power Flying Control Unit warning lights came on intermittently and the crew reported that up to 6 of the warning lights wore on at one time.

After turbulence ceased the flight continued to Santiago without further incident. (Some structural damage was found, but the aircraft flew back to Gatwick for repairs).

Passengers were uninjured but badly shaken.

The flight recorder read out attempted by analogue technique was made by Sperry and this proved to be of little use as there was too much “drop-out” of data - this has been a problem on the VC10 which we have been trying to solve for some time. As a result a digital read out was attempted by Penny and Giles and later this work was taken over by the RAE at Farnborough.
The first hand recollections of those on board that day

Many thanks to everyone for sharing their information and experiences, it is a invaluable record of this event
From Air Hostess Di Denby
I was on it and we were all in BUA uniform on that flight. Maureen Abel was my “flighty” and we are still in touch and good friends. Tony Cutting was the FO and as you know Dave “flash Philips” was the Captain and Jock McCann the Flight Eng.

In those days it wasnt compulsory to put the seat belt sign on unless there was turbulence but after the accident it became compulsory for all flights over the Andes to strap crew and pax in!!

We just suddenly dropped out of the sky, luckily we had a light load and most people were in their seats. Unfortunately I was the bar girl at the back counting my bar so ended up like a ping pong ball being thrown around the cabin, with hindsight it was lucky I was wearing a wig (a fashion item in those day) as I think it protected my head on its frequent contacts with the roof, it split my face open, I think that was when I wrecked a couple of seats on my way past. On landing I was rushed off in an ambulance as there was concern that it might have been my eye that was damaged.

Fortunately it wasnt and I was stitched up------ the flight crew and myself were flown home on Lufthansa for an inquiry but the rest of the crew completed their trip round South America. I heard that the a/c did continue on but then was grounded when they realised that the main spar of the a/c was wrecked (thats only heresay though) I seem to remember that the engines kept stalling and Dave bless him when told in no uncertain terms to get the ### things started again told “flash” what to do with a broom so that he could clean the flight deck at the same time !!!!!

Funny the things you remember---- we all found it quite hysterically funny once we were all safe!!!! The other thing i remember finding interesting was that another a/c was just ahead of us and had had absolutely no problems at all. I remember looking at the galley at the back before I got off the a/c and seeing that the loo doors had detached themselves and some of the trolleys had broken loose, it was a complete scene of devastation and hard to believe that the a/c had just been literally shaken to death.

From Air Hostess Mo Abel
I do remember rushing on the Flight Deck and there wasn't a green light anywhere to be seen and the Eng was switching everything on manually.   Certainly the Flight Deck saved our lives. It was definitely David "Flash" Phillips and Tony Cutting. 

I do remember we had the President of Chile, President Frei , on board so I immediately thought it was a bomb going off - when we went through the sound barrier. By the way I remember that on that Andes flight, I had a baby in my arms during the turbulence as he had been on the floor in a cot  I think in First Class, and I was just about to hand him to his Mother when we had the biggest drop.  I luckily managed to cling on to the baby with one hand  and I swung from the hatrack with my other hand  (I think that was when Di probably hit the roof in Ecy.)  I became friendly with the family after this event and years later I met the baby again - when grown-up -  and he thanked me for "saving his life"!   I remember also that I gave a pair of tights to Pres Frei's wife as she had ripped hers in the turbulence and in those days we used to carry spares of everything!!
Chilean Newspaper Chilean Newspaper
Chilean Newspaper Chilean Newspaper

My thanks go to Di Denby, Mo Abel, Tony Cutting, Richard Fisher, Phil Bowell, Peter Chapman,
Peter Thompson, Bob Cooper, Ana Eva Hueberger and Laurie Griffiths

Everyone's help was much appreciated.

If you have any information on the incident I would be pleased to add it here, please drop me a line anytime   email